Deadline arrives to renew DACA status

USCIS: Applications must be received Oct. 5

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of applications for a two-year extension of their status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals have been sent off by DACA recipients or their attorneys in advance of Thursday’s deadline.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires that the applications be received Oct. 5 if someone’s DACA status expires between now and March 5, 2018.

“If your DACA status expires after March 5, 2018, there’s no renewal,” immigration attorney Lance Curtright said.

Lorena Alonso, 20, and her sister Elsa, 18, went to Curtright because their DACA work permits expire in November.

Although every application will be reviewed and decided on a case-by-case basis, Curtright said he believes the young women are on firm footing.

“We’ve never touched drugs or alcohol. We’ve always been hardworking, trying to help our families,” Elsa Alonso said.

She’s a waitress and her sister Lorena Alonso works with special-needs children at a church day care center.

Lorena Alonso said her dream is to go back to school so she can become a special-needs teacher. She said she loves children and she always tried to help special-needs students at her high school.

Elsa Alonso, who wants to be a broadcast journalist, said she put off going to college until she knows what Congress decides to do about DACA over the next six months.

“Am I going to be able to achieve my dreams and become a reporter or am I going to have to be a waitress all my life?” she said.

The sisters said they understand their fates and those of other DACA recipients are in the hands of Congress.

“They have my future in their hands. They’re just kind of, you know, playing around with it,” Elsa Alonso said.

“I think it’s very regrettable that we’re holding this group of people hostage,” Curtright said. “It shouldn’t be, ‘If you give us a wall.’ It should be DACA first. It’s the right thing to do.”

Curtright said there’s been “a lot of chatter” on Capitol Hill regarding DACA and other immigration bills that hinge on border security, limiting DACA to current recipients and ending “chain migration” by excluding family members.

“To call families ‘chains’ is a misnomer,” Curtright said.

He said the U.S. has always had a family-based immigration system, “because we used to recognize the family as a very important pillar in our society.”

Elsa Alonso said if she could address Congress she would tell them: “You would want an education for your children. You would want for your family to be together. You wouldn’t want to be separated. Just think about that. What if it was you?”

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